Iranian female football fan dies after setting herself on fire

She was known as the “Blue Girl” on social media for the colors of her favorite Iranian soccer team, Esteghlal. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 September 2019

Iranian female football fan dies after setting herself on fire

  • The woman set herself on fire after she learned that she faced jail for attending a football match
  • She then spent three nights in jail before being released pending the court case

TEHRAN, Iran: An Iranian female football fan has died after setting herself on fire outside a court after learning she may have to serve a six-month sentence for trying to enter a football stadium, a semi-official news agency reported Tuesday.
The death immediately drew an outcry among some football stars and known figures in Iran, where women are banned from football stadiums, though they are allowed at some other sports, such as volleyball.
The 30-year old woman, identified only as Sahar, died at a Tehran hospital on Monday, according to the Shafaghna news agency. She was known as the “Blue Girl” on social media for the colors of her favorite Iranian football team, Esteghlal.
She set herself on fire last week, reportedly after learning she may have to go to prison for trying to enter a stadium in March to watch an Esteghlal match. She was pretending to be a man and wore a blue hairpiece and a long overcoat when the police stopped her.
She then spent three nights in jail before being released pending the court case.
No verdict had been delivered in her case so far. There were reports that Sahar, who had graduated in computer sciences, had attempted to take her life once before, while in university.
Former Bayern Munich midfielder Ali Karimi — who played 127 matches for Iran and has been a vocal advocate of ending the ban on women — urged Iranians in a tweet to boycott football stadiums to protest Sahar’s death.
Iranian-Armenian football player Andranik “Ando” Teymourian, the first Christian to be the captain of Iran’s national squad and also an Esteghlal player, said in a tweet that one of Tehran’s major football stadiums will be named after Sahar, “once, in the future.”
Female lawmaker Parvaneh Salahshouri called Sahar “Iran’s Girl” and tweeted: “We are all responsible.”


Will European arms ban impact Turkey’s Syria operation?

Updated 14 October 2019

Will European arms ban impact Turkey’s Syria operation?

  • Several European countries imposing weapons embargoes on Turkey

ANKARA: With an increasing number of European countries imposing weapons embargoes on Turkey over its ongoing operation in northeastern Syria, Ankara’s existing inventory of weapons and military capabilities are under the spotlight.

More punitive measures on a wider scale are expected during a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Oct. 17.

It could further strain already deteriorating relations between Ankara and the bloc.

However, a EU-wide arms embargo would require an unanimous decision by all the leaders.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned last week of a possible refugee flow if Turkey “opened the doors” for 3.6 million Syrian refugees to go to Europe — putting into question the clauses of the 2016 migration deal between Ankara and Brussels.

“The impact of EU member states’ arms sanctions on Turkey depends on the level of Turkey’s stockpiles,” Caglar Kurc, a researcher on defense and armed forces, told Arab News.

Kurc thinks Turkey has foreseen the possible arms sanctions and stockpiled enough spare parts to maintain the military during the operation.

“As long as Turkey can maintain its military, sanctions would not have any effect on the operation. Therefore, Turkey will not change its decisions,” he said.

So far, Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway have announced they have stopped weapons shipments to fellow NATO member Turkey, condemning the offensive.

“Against the backdrop of the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria, the federal government will not issue new permits for all armaments that could be used by Turkey in Syria,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Following Germany’s move, the French government announced: “France has decided to suspend all export projects of armaments to Turkey that could be deployed as part of the offensive in Syria. This decision takes effect immediately.”

While not referring to any arms embargo, the UK urged Turkey to end the operation and enter into dialogue.

Turkey received one-third of Germany’s arms exports of €771 million ($850.8 million) in 2018. 

According to Kurc, if sanctions extend beyond weapons that could be used in Syria, there could be a negative impact on the overall defense industry.

“However, in such a case, Turkey would shift to alternative suppliers: Russia and China would be more likely candidates,” he said.

According to Sinan Ulgen, the chairman of the Istanbul-based EDAM think tank and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, the arms embargo would not have a long-term impact essentially because most of the sanctions are caveated and limited to materials that can be used by Turkey in its cross-border operation.

“So the arms embargo does not cover all aspects of the arms trade between Turkey and the EU. These measures look essentially like they are intended to demonstrate to their own critical publics that their governments are doing something about what they see as a negative aspect of Turkey’s behavior,” he told Arab News.

Turkey, however, insists that the Syria operation, dubbed “Operation Peace Spring,” is undeterred by any bans or embargoes.

“No matter what anyone does, no matter if it’s an arms embargo or anything else, it just strengthens us,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told German radio station Deutsche Welle.